Since the inception of IMAX, competitors have been looking for ways to improve upon their own ticket prices with a similar or superior product. In April of 2010, Regal responded with the Regal Premium Experience or RPX theater. These theaters boast a much bigger screen than the standard Regal cinema, improved sound, and reclinable leather seats.
When it comes to the actual tech behind these theaters, most companies remain intentionally vague and offer little information on their site and in person. To help give you a better idea of what the RPX theaters have to offer, I’ll be going into detail about every function that comes with the more expensive alternative. By the end of this page, you will know for a fact whether or not this theater is another cheap cinema marketing gimmick or a worthwhile investment for a movie enthusiast!
I think it is important to start off by saying that what a theater company claims and what is reality can often be two very different things. So bear in mind that when I am listing off the audio and visual quality present in these movie theaters, what I’m describing may not be present in your local cinema. With that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into what everyone wants to know about, the screen size.
According to Regal themselves, each RPX screen is forty feet vertically and sixty feet horizontally, which is quite a bit larger than the average theater screen. This is still a decent bit smaller than an IMAX screen, however, which is typically 52 by 72. Considering that this is Regal’s “Premium Large Format” product, I would say it hits its mark well enough in terms of size. Films are played through dual 30,000-lumen digital projectors.
As for audio, it gets a bit murkier in terms of what your local theater actually uses. Regal states that an RPX theater can use a 7.1 Dolby Atmos or 11.1 Auro sound system. Which system your local theater uses is anyone’s guess. You can call and ask an employee, though I’ve seen many people state that employees are not sure which is used. It is hard to blame the employees (who are usually high schoolers) for this though, it is information that does not seem easily obtained.
Release statements claim that the theaters come equipped with eight 21-inch subwoofers, though this was over twelve years ago now. The actual number could have vastly changed from 2010 to 2022. Reviewers do seem to praise the audio quite highly though and it seems to be the high point of the experience, overall.
Regal claims there are speakers built into your chairs, though I’ve seen several examples of individual theaters not offering this. This actually seems like a positive for those theaters, as many people say that the chair speakers take away from the film and are quite distracting.
Moving towards the seats, Regal offers notably upgraded leather chairs which even recline in some theaters. While this is likely far better than any alternative you will be able to find in terms of comfort I should note that if the theater doesn’t offer good A/C, be wary. I shudder to think about the state of these chairs after a three-hour movie in eighty-degree heat. This not only is true for the person sitting in them, but for the person who has to sit in them after.
The Regal Premium Experience is available for two-dimensional movies as well as RealD three-dimensional films. 3D would actually be preferable through these theaters considering how the seats are a bit further removed from the action. This is going to help the depth of the third dimension on such a big screen, whereas being too close could remove the 3D effect.
To see if it is worth the investment, we first have to look at the ticket price of this luxury option in comparison to its competitors. The RPX ticket according to Regal’s website will cost an adult anywhere from 18.50 to 21 USD. Comparing this to IMAX (19.69 average), Cinemark XD (12.15 average), and Dolby Cinema (17 – 20), it can feel very hard to justify purchasing a ticket. This is especially true if you live in an area with multiple options.
I grew up in a town with only one theater for fifty miles and it was a Regal. If you are someone who can relate to this, then due to your geographic misfortune it may actually be worthwhile to purchase the expensive tickets. Considering that this is likely to be the only larger screen theater you will be able to see in your immediate vicinity, it might be worth it to spend the extra cash.
In my subjective verdict, the Regal Premium Experience falls short of IMAX by a somewhat wide margin. The screen isn’t as large, the sound quality is fifty/fifty depending on which theater you go to, and the squeaking leather chairs that offer speakers do nothing to aid the film. This would be fine if the price was significantly lighter than IMAX, though in my research it is leaning towards the most expensive option on the market.
If you are going to see a 3D film you might choose RPX for its more removed seating which benefits the immersion of the screen reaching out to you. Bear in mind, however, that you will have to pay for an even higher price if the film is both RPX and 3D, which can really add up if you are paying for multiple people, theater snacks, or those pesky convenience fees.
The bottom line is if you want to save money and have more options available to you locally, you should likely steer clear of RPX. If you really enjoy the supportive embrace of a smooth leather recliner and don’t mind the increased cost that comes with this improved Regal format, by all means, give it a shot. Normally I would recommend going to the theater once just for the new experience, though it doesn’t separate itself from other large-screen options enough to warrant the one-time purchase, in my opinion.
The pandemic hit the theater industry hard and the ramifications can be seen in several closed cinema locations throughout the country. Despite this, leading brands like Regal continue to push outrageous ticket prices on subpar experiences that don’t measure up to the cheaper alternatives offered by direct competitors. Due to this, I cannot recommend the RPX movie for most people, though unique scenarios could justify someone giving this expensive option a shot.